Balthasar & Francis

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While I appreciated Luke Timothy Johnson’s fair and serene review of Karen Kilby’s Balthasar: A (Very) Critical Introduction (April 12), I disagree with both of them that Balthasar takes a “God’s Eye View” of things. Or rather, their accusation misses the point. As Thomas Aquinas says: “Sacred doctrine derives its principles not from any human knowledge, but from divine knowledge, according to which, by means of the highest wisdom, all our knowledge is set in order” (Summa Theologiae). One could, after all, easily make the same charge against St. Paul when he says that “God made him [Christ], who knew not sin, to be sin for our sake, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor 5:21). Was Paul speaking here from God’s viewpoint? I think his answer would be something like “No, not exactly.” Instead he would say—as in fact he did say—that he was speaking from a revelation given to him directly by Jesus Christ (Gal 2:11–12). From this perspective, theology is but the explication of that previously accepted revelation. As Thomas again says: “The knowledge proper to this science [theology] comes through revelation and not through natural reason” (Summa). Theologians only seem as if they are taking a “God’s eye view” because they accept that revelation really...

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